Toward a culture of quotes

Keeler2Like the Rt. Rev. Doug LeBlanc, I am not fond of the whole “scare quotes” school of writing about religion and social issues.

But this morning, the Baltimore Sun ran a story that I thought delivered a textbook example of how to properly use quotation marks when using that politically explosive term that we have been debating a bit — “culture of life.”

The context is a Matthew Hay Brown feature marking the anniversary celebration of Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. We are interested in this paragraph early on:

Today, as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his priesthood — the actual date was in July — the cardinal is a leading spokesman for the church in the vital areas of relations with other faiths, discussion with other Christian denominations, and support for what his friend Pope John Paul II called “the culture of life.”

Later on, the story offers more insights into the term, thus fleshing out the definition. What I like is that this first reference uses “culture of life” as a real quotation, not a political term. It is directly linked to its source — John Paul II.

This is called “attribution.” It is a journalism virtue. Just do it.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.


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